Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"We love our dad!"

I feel like the final post of Blog 365 should be some sort of deep look at the past year, but eh, that's what the archives are for. Instead, here's a picture I just took of Ginger and Eddie engaging in a little Fred-worship:

We were supposed to be having fondue for supper tonight, but neither the commissary nor Walmart had any French bread. So instead we're going to go out to Jailhouse Pizza in Brandenburg. The fondue will have to wait until Friday (dinner out with friends tomorrow).

I remember spending a New Year's Eve with my Grandma Jernigan when I was a kid. She took a bath around 8 that night and announced, "I'm not taking another bath until next year!" That totally cracked me up and has obviously stuck with me. In that spirit, this is the last you'll hear from me until next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spent the day in Bowling Green

Fred and I journeyed down to Bowling Green today to watch a swim meet. This was the same meet where I last year took this amazing picture, thinking the swimmer was Annabelle (it wasn't):

Today we had more user-related camera problems. Fred agreed to shoot for me since my hands were especially shaky today, but I forgot to tell him that you shouldn't rotate the camera if you're shooting in video mode. I've figured out how to fix the file for playback on my computer, but when I upload it to YouTube it reverts back to sideways. So if you're eager to watch the 200-yard IM, rest your head on your own shoulder and check it out (with a time of 2:39.36, he placed 5th overall in the event):

My shaky hands and I took over for filming the 100-yard breaststroke, but for some reason stupid YouTube is taking its stupid time "processing" the file. Grrrrr! Oh, well, I'll add it on once it's available, but that might be sometime tomorrow. He finished sixth overall in the event with a time of 1:15.63, a .7-second improvement over his previous best time just .7 seconds over his best time.

Edited to add: It's finally finished!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tooth story

Annabelle went to the dentist today to have 8 teeth pulled. So watch this and then head over to her blog for the details:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another traveling coat

When my cousin Julie and I were in Europe back in college, we each had a coat. I bought mine at home before I left Florida, and the poor thing was pretty but just wasn't a match against the German winter. Julie, on the other hand, bought hers in France--a glorious men's wool overcoat, made in England and toasty warm. When the course of our lives led Julie to south Florida and me to chillier climates, we swapped coats. I am always grateful for its stylish warmth (after all these years, I guess it's "vintage"), and I make it a point to tell Julie where her coat has been. (She was especially honored recently to realize that her coat had been photographed with the Naked Cowboy in Times Square.)

When I think of Julie and the coat, I always think of one particular photo. I took this of her outside a hotel in Amsterdam:

When Fred and I (and the coat) went to NYC last month, I had to get my own lion picture:

That coat has a lot of miles on it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A perfect winter day

Today was lovely. Sure, it was cloudy. Sure, it was a little windy. But the high was almost SEVENTY DEGREES! I was in heaven.

It's short lived though. Tomorrow's high is going to be 45, which is going to feel even worse than usual after spending today in such glorious warmth.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The strange story of Bruce and Kevin

Once upon a time, a nice Australian couple in Pennsylvania had a nice couple of light-up reindeer on their front lawn for Christmas. Their names (the reindeer's, not the Australians') were Bruce and Kevin. One evening the nice Australian couple arrived home to find Bruce and Kevin duct-taped in a . . . um . . . compromising position. They assumed that the trickery had been committed by their seminar mates, but the same thing happened the next night when said seminar mates were all at a party. Very mysterious . . .

(I've seen the photos, and they are hysterical, but alas, I don't have copies of them. So you'll just have to take my word for it.)

Anyway, on the THIRD night, everybody was at another holiday party, and this time there was a "Dirty Santa" game, where you get to steal other people's presents. For quite a while, I had a 2008 White House ornament in my hands, but then it got stolen back away from me. So Fred had to make a choice: would he take the light-up Hulk mask? the Mexican baseball cap and wallet? perhaps the Army tie? No, he zeroed in on the box labeled "Bruce's Cousin from Down Under."

We brought the cousin home to Kentucky, but he looked lonely all by himself in our yard, so Fred went out and bought him a family. And now we have a small herd in our front yard, but they don't have names. So if you have any suggestions, leave a comment.

The Australian cousin is the little one in the middle:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Normally I would post a scan of our Christmas card here to wish everybody a very merry Christmas, but we're doing New Year's cards this year, and they're still at Walgreens. So instead I will share the one and only photo I took today:

We had a nice, relaxing day that didn't even get started until well after 9. The kids emptied out their stockings and then Fred made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. After breakfast we opened presents, and then Fred, Mike, and I watched Mike's DVD of Anchorman while Annabelle arranged her new loot in her room. We had our big meal around 4, and we're going to spend the evening watching more movies.

I hope your Christmas has been just as relaxing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fa la la la la

We are officially ready for Christmas, right down to the stockings. This has to be some sort of record for us, as usually Fred and I are wrapping well into the night on Christmas Eve.

We just got back from caroling. My friend Laura organized a serenade for a friend and neighbor of ours who is facing some pretty serious and scary health problems. I was worried that with it being Christmas Eve, we might have a small turnout. But there were at least 25 people there, and our music was well received. It felt good to be part of such a friendly, caring group!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a valuable prize!

My sister won a $50 Panera gift card in an ugly Christmas sweater contest! Here she is modeling the garment:

Fifty bucks at Panera beats a leg lamp any day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something about a man in uniform

I can't resist one:

Never could:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The long and winding (and windy) road

Nothing of substance to report today. Fred and I spent 10 and a half hours driving back from PA. All in all the weather was better than it could have been, but it was so WINDY!

We looked for a Starbucks for 377 miles before giving up and stopping at a Steak-n-Shake for milkshakes. Next exit? Yep, Starbucks.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Party report

Well, I was totally wrong about the sort of formal we were going to last night. I thought it was going to be one of those nights where you dress up pretty and have a receiving line and the whole "gentlemen, seat your ladies" thing and a million toasts and a speaker. I was right as far as "dress up pretty," but after that it diverged. This was a PARTY! No receiving line, no toasts, no boring speaker.

My first clue that things were going to be different was that each table had a marshmallow gun and a baggie of ammunition. You would think that anybody mature enough to be admitted to something as lofty as the War College would be way too mature to blow marshmallows at each other from across the room, right? Well, you would be wrong:

At the end of the evening, the DJ played "Freebird," sparking a wave of nostalgia for Fred and his friend Al:

We had a great time, and now we're off to another party, this one just for Fred's seminar group. Something tells me I don't need to worry about receiving lines or boring speakers at this party either.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Better do this now

Greetings from Pennsylvania! My flight was uneventful, and there was a rather festive air at the Louisville airport, as it was crawling with basic trainees on their way home on block leave. When the plane arrived at BWI, the flight attendant asked for a round of applause for the 20 or so on our flight, and then we all stayed seated and let them get off first. I thought that was nice.

Fred and I are getting ready to go over to Carlisle Barracks for the formal. I thought I better go ahead and blog now in case we're after midnight getting home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ready as I'm gonna be

This always happens to me when I'm getting ready to go out of town. I run out of time and energy long before I run out of stuff to do. I hit that point about an hour ago.

Fortunately I have all the big stuff done. I am, for example, packed. But I was hoping to update the Quicken and get our Christmas cards in the mail, neither of which are going to happen this week. Quicken will still be here when I get back, and I had the brilliant (to me) idea that this year we will be sending New Year's cards instead. Clever, eh? That just bought me an extra week. Oh, and the vacuuming of the upstairs that I meant to do before my mom got here (on the 3rd of December) but that I never got around to? Yeah, not happening either.

In other news, Mike left this evening to visit a friend in California for a few days. He just called a little while ago from the Minneapolis airport with the shocking report that it is "cold like I have never felt cold before." Cold in Minneapolis? In December? Really?!

After we dropped Mike at the airport, Annabelle and I had to hustle ourselves down to E'town for her final holiday performance with the youth orchestra. They did their show at the food court at the mall, and it really sounded great! It's been a busy few weeks of various rehearsals and performances, and now they are all over. It's been fun, but it'll be nice to take a rest!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Call me Zippy

I did it! I faced the invisible zipper, and I won. I got the zipper in yesterday, and then today I had to do the facing and the hem. Oddly enough it was the hem that wound up really intimidating me. I decided that the skirt's lower-knee length was just a touch frumpy so I wanted to make it shorter, but the thought of cutting into the fabric when it was SO close to finished just terrified me. So I channeled my cousin Julie, who is the bravest seamstress I know, and set to work, and it all turned out great.

Here, I'll give you a peek if you promise to act like you're seeing it for the first time when I post pictures from the formal. Also, please pretend that I am wearing sheer black hose and fresh makeup:

Edited to add: I forgot to give a shout out to this tutorial for walking me through invisible zipper land! I don't think I would have ever figured out how to use the stupid zipper foot without it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice dance

What's missing from this list?

I'll give you a hint. It starts with an F and ends with an O-R-T-K-N-O-X.

All counties surrounding us are closed. Jefferson County (Louisville) schools are open, but on the news they keep saying, "Well, we (meaning Louisville) got off easy, but south of us (meaning areas like Fort Knox) is a whole 'nother story!" And our forecast is for wintry mix in the morning, changing to freezing rain in the afternoon, so it's not like things are going to improve throughout the day.

Mike is incensed. On the off-chance that they would close school today, the high school compressed today's finals reviews with yesterday's. That means Mike's review for AP US History got condensed to a half-hour for nothing, and he's really nervous about that exam.

I don't know why I feel so disappointed. It really doesn't change MY day. I still get to stay home and refuse to go out. I love being snowbound with the kids though and feel bad for them that they have trudge off to school. And I feel especially bad for the faculty and staff who have to make their way here from Louisville and E'town!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Skirting the issue

When we first got the word about the upcoming deployment, I seriously considered changing my plans for going to Carlisle next weekend to attend the formal. Frankly I wasn't in much of a mood for fun of any sort and ESPECIALLY Army fun. Eventually I decided that I wasn't going for the Army; I was going for me and for Fred, so I got over myself and started hunting in my closet for something to wear.

I ultimately decided that in order to maximize warmth, I would wear my black velvet jacket that I bought a couple years ago, but I didn't really care for any of my skirts that go with it. They were all too church-dressy, as opposed to party-dressy. I could have gone out shopping for a skirt, but instead I opted to make one.

I am making this pattern (but the knee-length version):

Out of this fabric:

So far, so good. Mom and I cut it out together while she was up here, and today I started sewing. I have the front and back sewn together at one side, and all that remains is to put in the invisible zipper, finish that side seam, put in the facing, and do the hem. I'm nervous about the zipper though. I don't think I've ever done an invisible one, and I had to buy this little set of special feet for the sewing machine, which makes me think it might be some sort of Big Deal.

I think I am going to stop for the night while I am ahead and face the zipper in the morning.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sh! Do you hear that?

There's a box of Cinnabons on my kitchen counter, and I think they are calling my name. Must. Be. Strong.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I got together with a couple of friends tonight for wine, munchies, and fun conversation. We had a great time! I need to do stuff like that more often.

Mom left this morning, which was a bummer. Annabelle went with us to the airport, and then she and I went shopping (the mall was just normal Saturday morning crowded as opposed to a week and a half before Christmas crowded, which was nice), had lunch, and got our hair cut.

I have a lot of stuff to do tomorrow but nothing that has to be done at any particular time. I'm hoping to sleep until 9.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Space case?

My dad has been getting some cool night sky photos lately! The other day he sent me this one, which is Jupiter, Venus, and the moon:

And then tonight he sent me this one, which is the moon at its closest orbital point to Earth:

I'm impressed!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Strangest dream last night

It's kind of a running joke between Fred and me that I always have the most bizarre dreams, and the next morning I always say, "I had the strangest dream last night." But last night I really did!

I dreamed that I decided my fingers were too long, so I took a guillotine-style nail trimmer like you might use on a large dog's claws, and I snipped off the tip of each finger on my left hand. Then I thought, "Well, that was a stupid thing to do," and I gathered up the pieces and took them to the doctor, who glued them back on.

When I say I had the strangest dream last night, I speak the truth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where did today go?

Today has been a blur. Mom and I spent most of the school day down in E'town, doing some Christmas shopping and having lunch. I have introduced Mom to the wonders of Panera, and she seems to like it a lot. Which is good, as we will most likely be eating lunch there again tomorrow.

When we got home in the afternoon, I went into full-on chauffeur mode. 3:15--take Mike to swim practice. 4:30--take Annabelle to musical theater class. 4:45--pick Mike up from swim practice. 6:15--pick Annabelle up from musical theater class. Then I had a swim boosters meeting at 7:00, and somewhere in all that, Mom made supper. We had Laredo, which is basically just chili with cheese, but hers is the best. It's what I always request when I go home to Florida, so it's nice to get to enjoy it up here as well. Especially in this ICKY weather!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Well, I managed to tell 2 friends our news today without crying, which is an improvement over yesterday. In fact, I haven't cried at all today.

This may sound crazy, but I blame a paint chip for our current troubles. Back at the beginning of the school year when we thought we would be staying here through 2010, I had a wild desire to paint my bathroom. So I went to Lowe's and picked out some paint chips and taped the best one to the bathroom wall so that I could live with it for a while and see how I liked it. When they first said Germany to us, I decided that there was no point in painting if we were just going to be moving out in a matter of months, but I still left the chip on the wall . . . until this week when I threw it away. I threw it away, and the next thing you know Germany is off the table and Fred is headed for another deployment.

I'm going to stop by Lowe's tomorrow and get another paint chip. And once I've ascertained that it's the right color, I'm buying paint, and I'm painting the bathroom. I might just paint the whole stupid house while I'm at it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Stress code

While we have been reasonably satisfied with the schools here on post, there is one aspect that has been a constant source of frustration for the past 3+ years: the dress code. It's crazy! It's huge and unwieldy and full of bizarre rules, such as no capris for girls and turtleneck shirts only if worn under a school-approved sweater or sweatshirt. Why, why, why?! There's also laughable language such as, "Authorized school logos and naturally occurring logos found on some apparel such as Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, etc., are permitted provided the logo is no larger than 2 inches square." Naturally occurring logos? Are you kidding me?! It is a nightmare trying to find clothes that fit the code and that kids want to wear.

It looks like this year something might finally be done about this Frankenregulation (at 3.5 pages, compared to other schools' 1 or 2-page codes, it is indeed a monster). Tonight they held a meeting to get parent input. I had planned on going anyway even though up until Friday (sob!), I didn't think I'd have a dog in that fight as of next year. Now that my dogs and I will still be here, I was extra-enthusiastic about putting in my 2 cents.

I had to leave the meeting a little before the end to make it to the high-school band concert. Annabelle had told me to feel free to miss the concert in order to fight the code, but I didn't want to do that! The concert was great, and I think I got some good video. I'll try to get it uploaded soon.

If you want to look at the dress code for yourself, you can check it out here on the middle school's website.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Eyewitless traffic report

Mom and I drove up to Louisville this morning to watch Mike's swim meet and then to take him to get a haircut. The meet was great! Mike dropped his time in his 100 freestyle to 1 minute 1 second--this was without starting blocks, so with blocks he could probably shave that down a bit more.

When we came out of the meet, the weather had turned icky, and it was doing some weird combination of light snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Not my kind of weather at all but not nearly bad enough to account for the carnage we witnessed as we drove across town. EVERY overpass had at least one wreck. We estimate that we saw between 15 and 20 wrecks, with one truck being entirely upside down and one car being completely burnt out inside. People, when they say that the bridge ices before the road, THEY ARE NOT KIDDING!

I read online that in a 2-hour time period, there were 62 injury accidents and 123 non-injury accidents. That is just crazy!

Friday, December 05, 2008


I've been looking forward to writing tonight's post for a really long time, since mid-October, I guess. I had a title picked out for it, and it was going to be called: "This blog is about to get a lot more exciting." And it was going to say, "Today Fred finally got the call about his assignment for next year, and we're going back to Germany! We've known about it for several weeks, and it has looked more and more certain as time has gone by, but I just didn't want to risk jinxing it by putting it on the blog." Well, fat fucking lot of good that did.

Instead you can see the title of the post for yourself and instead it goes like this:

Fred finally got the call about his assignment for next year, and he's deploying to Afghanistan. The kids and I will stay here. We're all pretty much devastated.

It's going to take a while to process this. I will say though that I have gone from the stunned phase to pissed off remarkably quickly.

Wake me up in 18 months.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Annabelle and Big Red

Tonight was the Christmas performance for the youth orchestra and the ECTC choir. You will have to believe me when I say it was fantastic! I took the video camera and even went to the trouble of purchasing a new tape. But it quickly became apparent that with the audience and the orchestra all sitting on the same level and with Annabelle tucked away towards the back with the rest of her bass buddies that the tape was not going to show anything except a lot of heads and music stands and some violin bows sweeping up and down. Fortunately the county school system had a professional there recording the whole thing, and I got the phone number. I'm going to call tomorrow and order their DVD and when I get it, I'll share highlights.

In the meantime here's a still photo for you:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I want my mommy!

So I'm going to go up to Louisville and pick her up from the airport. :-D

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Can I do it?

I have one paper standing between me and the end of the semester. It's technically due by midnight on Friday, but I just want it DONE, the sooner the better. I've finished up all my research and sat down at 8:00 to knock it out. My goal is to be finished by midnight. Here it is already 10:15 though, and I'm just finishing up page 3 (out of 8). Stand by for updates . . .

Oh, before I forget! Go check out Annabelle's post from today. It's a supercute song parody that she did for a school assignment. I'd like it noted for the record that I did too know what "demur" meant--I just didn't understand her use of it in the song when she was singing it for me.

Update: I hear the 11:00 bugle, and I am just at the top of page 5. Midnight is looking less and less likely as a goal.

Update: 11:22, and I just finished page 5. I skipped ahead and wrote the third section of the paper before writing the second. Right now I'm trying to decide between writing the conclusion and skipping back to section 2.

Update: 11:47, and I'm just hitting the bottom of page 6. So yeah, midnight isn't going to work.

Update: 12:21, and I have a half dozen lines to go before reaching my required 8 pages. Fortunately (?) I still have my conclusion left to write, and it should be good for at least that much space. I'm beat and am going to head for bed. Even if I could knock it out right now, it would probably not be a good idea for me to submit it without taking another look at it with fresher eyes tomorrow. Oh, well, I'm satisfied. It's almost over.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The one that got away

Today was colder than a well-digger's monkey or something like that. I got home from my doings in Louisville, and the sky opened up, shooting forth a torrent of snow just as I needed to take the dog out. I decided no way was I going to go out in that mess with her, so I was just going to stand inside the front door and let her run out on the flexi-leash to take care of her business.

Anyway, as I opened the door, I was greeted by a sight of unspeakable cuteness. A SQUIRREL was sitting on the pumpkin that I just haven't gotten around to pitching yet, and he was eating it. I shut the door and ran upstairs for my camera, and when I got back he was STILL there (greedy little bugger), but I only got to fire off one shot before he took off. And that one shot was horribly, awfully, terribly out of focus:

Does that not suck? Would that not have been such a great picture? I haven't been this bummed photographically speaking since I took that awesome picture of a swimmer who turned out NOT to be my daughter.

Victory will be mine! I will leave that pumpkin there until next Christmas if I have to. He has to come back. And when he does, I'll be waiting for him . . .

Edited to add: My dad said this in the comments to this post: "You can't fool me. That front-porch 'photo' is of the famous Monet painting 'le petit rodent mange sur le grand jacques au laterne.' (I saw the original hangin' in the Loover!)"

Sorry, Dad, but you are mistaken. I believe this is the famous Monet painting to which you are referring:

They are admittedly very similar. It's an easy mistake to make.


I have knitted a cheeseload of socks in the past few years, and with one exception I always come back to my same old reliable pattern. This time, however, I wanted to shake things up a little bit, so I am still using Old Reliable BUT I am knitting both socks at once as outlined here:

I'm hoping this will prevent Second Sock Syndrome, that dreaded condition in which you have completed one sock and can't think of anything you'd rather do less than knit the second sock.

Oh, and did I mention that I finished my green sweater in time for my NYC trip? I'm really happy with how it turned out: